Garbage in, garbage out

22 10 2008

Years ago, way back in 1992 I believe, when I built my first FileMaker data base, a programmer friend of mind told me to be sure the field I was creating would be ones I’d use and relevant to what I’d be looking for later on. Why? Because…”Garbage in, garbage out.”

I’ve built and architected numerous databases since then and this message has been the baseline for each and everyone. The closer I toe the line on what can be garbage, the more successful the end result. At the same time, training people to use the database once it’s built, is the second key to keeping it out of the grabage heap.

So why am I talking about such old technology today?

Well, today so much content on the web is “User Generated”. Yes, we’re all users, but UGC comes mostly from people who are not professional data gatheres and don’t understand the implications of mis-labelling or omitting a label on something. That’s fine, why should we expect everyone to know this about data?

BUT… but I just got a reminder of why it is important. Search. A new serach tool just brought me back to web serach as it was 10 years ago. OK, so it’s really nothing more than a gimick. However, the results this engine delivers are pretty bad. Junk, garbage, call it what you will but I only got a 10th of the results one should expect.

School classes on tagging and content labeling? Facebook cources maybe? It sure would be sad to turn back the clock here.


Latest Trend in Social Networking … ads!

13 10 2008

So this is good news for me I suppose. My clients have forever been asking how to leverage social media for business purposes. Now the answer just got a little easier, or at least we’ve gotten to something they can understand – ads.

It’s far more difficult to convince companies that just having a conversation or engaging interaction with their customers is a good thing. They want to see the money not the feel good intangible. Well, not all agree on this point, there are many companies who understand that good communication with their customers builds strong relationships. But the thing is in economically strained times, the number crunchers tend to opt for the measurable.

The business world has been asking how these sites could sustain themselves and of course it was only a matter of time before the obvious came true. MySpaceAds announced October 12, Twittads still new, Facebook ads gaining ground, YouTube sponsored videos… the list grows daily.

This reminds me of my days at Concordia University, debating the evils of advertising as a means of sustaining news papers. The good, the bad and the evil but at the end of the day we all pay for the services we like to use.

Killing Sound Bite Reporting

12 10 2008

Oh to be released from sound bite reporting and have the opportunity to have communicaiton that actually means something. Imagine all the wonderful ideas that don’t ever see the light of day because they take more than 30 seconds to explain.

With elections happening in both Canada and the US this fall, my evening news has turned into nothing more than 3 to 10 second clips of the people who are vying to lead one of these countries. If it can’t be said in such a short lapse, we don’t get to hear it. This just frustrated me. Is this why I’ve lost interest? I know that I can’t listen to everything that each has to say on the hot topics. It would be a lot easier if they just left all the negative stuff to the side, maybe we’d have time for a real conversation.

And it’s not just the PR handlers who are responsbile for the repetitive nonsense that’s spewed. The national news casts are competing in a media saturated world. They have to try to catch our attention in the midst of all the other things we’ve got going on in our lives. So they go for the hit that can be played over and over … even by the other networks. Ugh.

It seems like we should be getting better value on the web, on sites where the candidates have the opportunity to offer us something more substantial. But no, the various Facebook et. al pages don’t really want us to learn or communicate on much other than those 20 second clips.

Well for contests that are all about numbers, the news networks and candidates seem to want us to pay attention and for US to give THEM the numbers – but they can hardly give us the time of day… okay, that they can do, it only takes a few seconds.